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Full text of "Lectures And Essays"

THE ETHICS OF BELIEF                 185

If there were only one Prophet, indeed, it
might well seem a difficult and even an un-
gracious task to decide upon what points we
would trust him, and on what we would $dtibt
his authority; seeing what help and furtherance
all men have gained in all ages from those who
saw more clearly, who felt more strongly, and
who sought the truth with more single heart
than their weaker brethren.    But there is not
only one Prophet;   and while the consent of
many upon that which, as men, they had real
means of knowing and did know, has endured
to the end, and been honourably built into the
great fabric of human knowledge, the diverse
witness of some about that which they did not
and could not know remains as a warning to
us that to exaggerate the prophetic authority is
to misuse it, and to dishonour those who have
sought only to help and further us after their
power.    It is hardly in human nature that a
man should quite accurately gauge the limits
of his own insight; but it is the duty of those
who profit by his work to consider carefully
where he may have been carried beyond it.    If
we   must  needs   embalm   his  possible  errors
along with his solid achievements, and use his
authority as an excuse for believing what he
cannot have known, we make of his goodness
an occasion to sin.

To consider only one other such witness: